Why You Should Boycott Captive Dolphin Swim Programmes

28 Mar

If you want to listen to this blog post, it was first done as an Audioboo post, which you can find on my Audioboo Profile.

For other thoughts on Environmental issues see: Does your life Suck? Why not kick a duck to death?

The dolphin in the picture, I swam with that dolphin and others, on a trip to Cuba back in 2 2005 with my, then fiance, Lara. She didn’t enjoy the experience, she said the dolphins didn’t seem happy; I, on the other hand, did enjoy the experience, a lot. That dolphin and all the others I swam with, were all captive, brought from aquariums to perform for tourists. At the time I wasn’t really aware of the great suffering I was benefiting from.

I became aware when I first saw a documentary called The Cove about Dolphin Slaughter at a particular cove near the Japanese town of Taiji. Every year thousand upon thousands of dolphins, passing on an annual migration route, are herded into a cove where the vast majority will perish at the hands of the local fishermen. The reason for this slaughter? Female Bottle nose Dolphins, the typical ‘flipper’ Dolphin, are highly valuable and bought by aquariums around the world to become part of swim programmes or perform tricks. Here’s a video extract. By taking part in a dolphin swim programme I was effectively part of the horror that takes place at Taiji every year and that is something that I will never feel good about.

The Cove was made several years ago now, so I was surprised on a recent trip to mexico to find that our tour operator First Choice were still offering excursions to take part in captive Dolphin swim programmes, the details of the excursion offered can be found on their website. When this was offered to us during our Rep’s welcome meeting, I tweeted my concerns to First Choice whose response was that ‘the welfare of the Dolphins was their primary concern’, but unfortunately the fact the dolphins are kept in captivity is immediately showing a lack of concern for their welfare. As an aside, on the flight home, the First Choice cabin crew were keen to talk about the companies links to the Born Free Foundation whose main aim is to ‘keep animals in the wild’…

The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies recently added weight to the argument that captivity is, in itself, cruel by suggesting that Dolphins, along with larger species of Whale, should be considered as Non-Human Persons and therefore be afforded much the same rights as humans.

Since getting back from Mexico, I have been looking into exactly which other travel companies are offering Captive Dolphin Swim Programmes and it didn’t make pleasant reading:

First Choice/Thompsons – Primax Dolphin Swim

Virgin Holidays Florida

Sandals – Dolphin touch and swim

All these travel companies have a hand in allowing the senseless slaughter of Dolphins and the cruelty of captivity to continue…I’d call on them to stop offering these excursions and to consider not dealing with hotel chains that offer them. They won’t of course because there’s money to be made…

So, what can you do?

  • It’s quite simple really, don’t take part in swim programmes with Captive Dolphins. If you want to swim with Dolphins, it is still possible to have this experience with wild Dolphins via organised tours, there is no guarantee you will see Dolphins but, if you do and you get to swim with them, it will be on their terms;
  • Tell other people about why swimming with captive dolphins is wrong and harmful to individual Dolphins and the wider environment; and
  • Write to the UK travel companies and ask them to stop providing Dolphin Swim excursions where the animals are captive.

Tour operators continue to offer these excursions because the amount of money they can make from them outweighs the amount they will currently potentially lose through negative coverage. We can redress that balance and it’s important that we do. I want my children to one day grow up in a world where Dolphins still exist, I hope you do too.

As always, if you don’t like these thoughts, stick around, I have plenty of others.





2 Responses to “Why You Should Boycott Captive Dolphin Swim Programmes”


  1. Eerie as the dreams of ghosts: Swimming with Manta Rays in the Maldives | Paul Coxon's moments - November 1, 2015

    […] Wild Dolphins (Captive Dolphins don’t count) […]


  2. We have a plastic problem Or let’s start with 1 thing #startwith1thing | Paul Coxon's moments - January 24, 2016

    […] And this one: On why you should boycott captive Dolphin swims […]


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